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Staphylococcus aureus

Fig 1: Staphylococcus aureus(~1m)

One of the most common bacteria found on the skin and in the noses of up to 25% of
healthy people and animals is Staphylococcus aureus(1). S. aureus is a bacterium that belongs
to kingdom Eubacteria, and is a member of the family Staphylococcaceae. It also belongs into
the phylum Firmicutes; therefore, it is a gram positive bacterium which stains purple, after gram
staining (it retains the color of the primary dye). Despite its shape being spherical or circular, it
actually belongs to the class Bacilli, and order Bacillales. S. aureus is named after its physical
appearance; hence its genus Staphylococcus, meaning clustered spheres, and aureus
meaning, golden, after its gold-like colonies on a selective growth medium (Mannitol Salt
Agar) (7)
S. aureus is gram-positive cocci (ranging from 0.5 1.0 m in diameter) and is non-
motile (3). It is also non-spore forming. This bacterium is a catalase positive; therefore, it has
the ability to reduce toxic peroxides into non-toxic hydrogen and water (presence of bubbles
after the addition of

). It is a facultative anaerobe; it does not require oxygen for it to grow,

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but the presence of oxygen does not hinder its growth capabilities. Another unique biochemical
characteristic of S. aureus is its ability to utilize citrate (through citrase enzyme) into the cell and
make it available for catabolizing processes for bacterial metabolism. It has a sodium chloride
tolerance of 7.5% and has the ability to utilize the production of coagulase (an enzyme causes
blood clotting) (8).
S. aureus may occur commonly in the environment and is transmitted through air,
droplets, or fluids. They are also believed to be transmitted either via person-to-person contact,
through a common source or most-likely, items commonly shared by individuals (6).Typically,
the presence of this bacterium cause no problem and goes unnoticed. However, it can infect other
tissues when barriers (skin or mucosal lining) have been breached (2). S. aureus is considered a
classic opportunist because it takes advantage of broken skin or other entry sites to cause an
S. aureus is one of the leading causes of infections acquired in the community and after
surgery or hospital (3). One of the most interesting facts about S. aureus, is their ability to make
seven different toxins which are primary responsible for food poisoning (2). The reason why this
happens is because of their strains which allow them to produce highly heat-stable protein toxins
in foods contaminated by handling, if storage is inadequate. Another interesting fact about this
bacterium is the numerous factors that help it to evade the hosts defense mechanisms. Majority
of its strains, carry a polysaccharide on their surface which helps them resist phagocytosis by
macrophages (6).These strains are also the causative agent for septicemia, infections,
pneumonia, meningitis, endocartis etc. (4). It is capable of causing diseases from minor soft
tissue infections, minor wounds, food poisoning, to serious medical problems such as toxic shock
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1. Bennet, R.W. and G.A. Lancette. 1998. Bacteriological analytical manual, 8th edition,
Revision A. Chapter 12.
2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 2006. Staphylococcal Food Poisoning. CDC,
3. Microbiology in Pictures. 2013. Staphylococcus aureus. Microbiology in Pictures,
4. Mandal A. 2013. What is Staphylococcus aureus? News-Medical,
5. Marples, R.R., J.F. Richardson, and F.E. Newton. 1990. Staphylococci as part of the
normal flora of human skin. Journal of Applied Bacteriology Symposium Supplement
6. Pennslyvania State University. 2013. Survival of Staphylococcus aureus on Synthetic
Turf. College of Agricultural Sciences,
7. Seubert. H. 20008. MRSA. Bioweb.uwlax,
8. University of Arizona. 2013. Lab 9-11: p. 37-58. In MIC 205L Biology of
Microorganisms Laboratory: Laboratory Manual Guide to Laboratories 1-15. University
of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.